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It's Very You

[11.05.24 – 29.06.24]


Jan Gatewood


12/F, Blue Box Factory Building, 25 Hing Wo Street, Aberdeen, Hong Kong 

(Related files)

untitled (gore, stitches, and other raw materials)
By Sam Moore

i: gore

The body is falling. Between the gusts of wind and the way that buildings soar past them as they plummet, this feeling is unlike anything else they’ve ever felt. With outstretched limbs, they reached for something to define this feeling, wondering if grace sounded right. There is a pool of blood slowly expanding outwards from the back of their head. The body is a sight to behold. The body is, slowly but surely, being opened up, the fragments of what kept it together made viscerally clear.  It is more than just blood that seeps out of the wound; it is the soul, the self that they constructed for themselves. Each drop of blood another fragment of someone who no longer knows where they’re going. All they know, all they can hold on to, is where they’ve been, who they became. Seeing red, they hope that they might become, again. The fall was just the beginning, and even that dull thud didn’t hurt as much as what comes next; that impulsive, desperate scrawl, the digging deep, of being put back together again.

ii: stitches

They admire the scar in the mirror; a long, deep gash on the back of their head. If they look at it closely enough, they can see the suture that holds it—them—together. Whenever this happens, they’re tempted to pull at it, to see what happens if they come apart again. They give it a short, firm tug. The tension on their sutures brings them back to that feeling of falling, back at the top of the hill—one always finds one’s burden again—finding peace not in their brutal descent, but the knowledge they can go back again, their body not as final or finite as they first imagined it to be. After getting a haircut, they wanted to make sure that the scar, the suture, was visible to anyone that might look their way. There is power in being able to point to the ways in which we’ve been put together, a hastily assembled mass of scars and stitches, constantly striving to become more than the things which first held us together; more malleable than we might ever imagine flesh and blood to be.

iii: other raw materials

A deeply personal archive: the playbill for a production of Six Degrees of Separation; the cover of an album by Simply Red; a barely legible line of text that makes reference to X-Ray Spex. The point seems to be that these errant words, these layers of references, challenging how faces look, or what’s in a name, are difficult to decipher. Source material becomes less abstract and more visceral; a tool through which things might be (re)made. Even the paper looks as if it’s been stitched together, or overwritten. The sense of self might not even exist, at least not in a concrete way; instead, it becomes a palimpsest, the verse of a Prince song ripped from context and used elsewhere, like language being spoken anew.

(About Jan Gatewood)

Situated at the intersection of drawing, painting and collage, Jan Gatewood’s practice is ultimately one of resistance and subversion. Working exclusively on paper with materials that range from bleach, glue and fabric dye to salt, matcha and palo Santo ash, Gatewood challenges the definition of painting and its inherent value system through works that are immediate; invitations to contest one dimensional depictions of race and representation. Drawing from an eclectic array of sources, and deeply interested in ideas of generosity within an increasingly exclusive market, Gatewood uses humour as an access point in collaboration with autonomous mark-making to materialise harmonious contradictions.